I found myself looking at my rather large collection of beer and beer brewing books today thinking about how many just sat on the shelf or even discouraged me when I tried to read them before fully understanding what I was reading. Home brewing books vary! Some are easy to read and cater to the beginner while others border on textbooks with math, biology and chemistry that can make you feel like you’re back in college. So I’ve decided to give a “road map” if you will of what I’d suggest to someone getting in to beer brewing. Here are the books and resources I’d read, in order, to get to making great beer.
- How To Brew by John Palmer – If you want a preview of this great book it’s available online for free although it doesn’t have the artwork you get in the paid version. I still read this book today. I believe Palmer is considered to be the first great home brew book author or at least to me he is.
- Brewing Classic Styles – John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff. This book boasts 80 award winning recipes anyone can brew and it certainly backs this up. Once you get a handle on the How To Brew book the first thing you’ll want to do is find different recipes to broaden your horizons. Every style that exists is listed as well as keys to brewing that style of beer. It’s brief and not too thick with science as to make it a difficult read. A great step after digesting How to Brew.
- Listen to the Jamil Show from oldest to newest on The Brewing Network. Jamil Zainasheff has a great radio show and when it first started they went from style to style discussing each style for about 45 minutes on the radio. Listening to the philosophy on brewing from these guys is invaluable and I wish I would’ve stumbled upon it earlier. I was just introduced to it this year.
- Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels – This book is a tour of classic styles of beer, their history and how the recipes are formulated and brewed historically as well as how they are brewed at the National Homebrew Competition. When you get in to designing your own recipes this book is invaluable.
- New Brewing Lager Beers by Gregory Noonan – The title of this book is a little misleading because it isn’t about lagers. This is an advanced reference for brewers which really gets in to what it means to brew seriously. For me this was the book that felt most like reading a college textbook but it is interesting after you really understand brewing. I purchased it first and had to let it collect dust on the shelf for a couple of years after it hurt my brain. I came back to it after I’d learned everything above and it made a lot more sense and was fun to read.
- Radical Brewing – this is what you’re looking for if you want “inspiration” and fun facts to get in to creating your own unique recipes. Lots of history, philosophy and facts that will help you grow as a brewer.
- The Individual Books in the “Classic Beer Style Series” – This is a series of books by different experts each on an individual style of beer. I have bock and helles at the moment and they’re great beers on those individual styles. I purchase these books when I focus on a specific style.
That’s what I’ve got as a good road map to get started. If you make it through all that you’ll be well equipped to find what’s next. In addition to this I’d find a good beer brewing club in your area. The members can put you on to things you haven’t heard of yet and you all help each other grow together. I’d also find a good online community you like. Personally I love HomeBrewTalk.com. When I was new to brewing I’d post questions on this site while brewing and have an answer in minutes. A great site.